Disruptors: The Growth Journey – People

Nexus, Leeds

Businesses need to harness the full potential of their workforce as key drivers of successful technological change.

So what are some of the effective strategies and change management techniques firms can use to ensure a smooth transition and increase employee buy-in?

How can companies create a more collaborative environment to encourage their employees to contribute their perspectives and ideas?

These topics were tackled by a panel of speakers at TheBusinessDesk.com’s Disruptors conference, hosted by Nexus in Leeds and sponsored by BHPClarion and SPG.

The panel, chaired by TheBusinessDesk.com’s joint managing director Alex Turner, included: Macs Dickinson of LHV, Ian McAleese of Snowflake and Louise Wood of Leeds City Council’s Employment and Skills team.

Dickinson explained how his own business had set out to attract talent by highlighting to candidates the high levels of autonomy it offered its staff.

He also stressed the importance of having employees with different skill sets complementing each other in the same team.

Commenting on how the pandemic had affected the labour market, he added: “Over the last two or three years we’ve seen a lot of remote roles hoovering up the talent.

“Many of those people are now being made redundant and are looking for new work.

“But if you hire people with only money as the incentive and those people don’t align with your business’s values they’ll be gone in 12 to 18 months.”

He noted that in the post pandemic world, the key to keeping a remote workforce coherent was good communication and physically bringing staff together when possible.

“I think there’s a correlation between how much you bring your people together and how engaged your workforce is,” he said.

McAleese said businesses must recognise they don’t permanently “own talent”. He said that as people’s careers develop they will naturally move on to other companies.

Turning to his firm’s experience he said it looks to inspire new employees by showing them how creative and valuable their work will be.

“People who work at Snowflake are here because they want to add value and create something – that is what we want to retain,” he said.

McAleese said companies should treat the market for talent as an ecosystem, pointing out that his firm runs a start-up challenge for tech businesses each year and also runs its own graduate training programme.

Wood said companies can retain and maximise talent if they ensure the vision of the business aligns with its employees.

“It’s about making sure you have a real focus on your people,” she said. “Staff can add value to businesses through the innovations they come up with.

“And if you’re bringing the right talent in, these people are going to be future leaders of the business.”

Commenting on how companies should respond to skills gaps, she said employers may need to think differently about who and how they recruit.

She said this includes considering people with transferrable skills who don’t necessarily have specific paper qualifications for a particular role, people who have not gone to university, or candidates returning to employment following a break.